HOUSTON — Pepperdine and Duke "are kind of like mirrors of each other," Wave Coach Jim Harrick said in talking about tonight's first-round game in the NCAA Midwest Regional.
The Waves (23-8), seeded 14th in the Midwest and unranked, and Duke (22-7), seeded third and ranked 10th nationally, will meet at 7:30 p.m. (PST) at the University of Houston's Hofheinz Pavilion.
Although the teams may be sort of mirror images of each other, Duke's mirror may be a bit wider, Harrick said.
"Both teams are up-tempo, like to fast break," he said, "and both have outstanding guards (Pepperdine's 6-5 Dwayne Polee and Duke's 6-2 All-American Johnny Dawkins). But it's the bulk of their front line against the quickness of ours."
The leaders in bulk for the Blue Devils are 6-8, 235-pound junior center Jay Bilas and 6-9, 225-pound junior forward Mark Alarie.
Alarie, with a 16-point average, is Duke's second-leading scorer behind Dawkins, who averages 18.7. Bilas, the former Rolling Hills High School star, averages a team-high 5.9 rebounds, just ahead of Alarie's average of 4.9.
The Pepperdine coach said that one of the keys is how well Polee, the team's best defender and the West Coast Athletic Conference Player of the Year, contains Dawkins, an alternate on the gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic team.
Harrick said that another key will be the defense of his relatively slim frontcourt players--specifically 6-7, 190-pound junior Anthony Frederick and 6-8, 200-pound sophomore Eric White--against Bilas and Alarie.
"I think I fear Alarie more than Dawkins," Harrick said. "Our concerns are to not let them get too many shots inside and make it a half-court game."
The Waves, who have won 17 of their last 19 games and won the WCAC title with an 11-1 league record, have relied on the fast break all season. They especially did so in winning 10 games in which they trailed at the end of the first half.
And they have counted heavily on Frederick and White, both all-conference selections, to get the fast break going.
Frederick, a transfer from Santa Monica College, this season blocked 79 shots, a school single-season record, and averaged 7.1 rebounds and 12 points.
He had a season-high of nine blocks (also a school record) and a career-high 19 rebounds in a 53-52 win over Santa Clara in January. He also scored the winning basket with 11 seconds to play in that pivotal victory over Santa Clara, which had been the WCAC preseason favorite.
White, who prepped at St. Ignatius in San Francisco, was the team's rebounding leader with an average of nine while also scoring an average of 15.5 points a game.